Cleansing up Yamuna

Though pollution in the Yamuna, especially along its course in Delhi, is not new, the fact that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has raised concerns over it draws attention to the urgency of the problem and the importance of preserving the water bodies considering their significance for the ecosystem. In 2017, the National Green Tribunal had penalised the Art of Living Foundation for causing damage to the Yamuna waterfront. In Delhi, pollution in the river is attributed to an increase in population along with the setting up of colonies, mostly unplanned, with a proportionate discharge of effluents without being properly treated, along with the flow of chemicals from the industries. The CPCB has asked the states of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to ensure effective treatment of sewage before their discharge into the river.

Like in the case of the Kali Bein, a tributary of the Beas in Punjab, that was cleaned with voluntary efforts supplementing the state measures, through community participation and the involvement of local bodies, the possibility of chalking out a similar plan for specific areas along the course of the Yamuna can be looked into. The model for rejuvenating the stream by Balbir Singh Seechewal had found acceptance with the government even to clean the Ganga. To check the froth formation in the Yamuna, states should ensure that manufacturers stick to the standards and the scientific parameters are not only enunciated clearly but also followed. Industrial units that do not conform to the standards should face action. Government efforts to contain pollution have not been lacking in intent with numerous bodies being set up as an example of it. But despite all this, bottlenecks remain.

Though environmental agencies clarified that water quality had not improved significantly in the rivers despite the lockdown, the rise in pollution points to the need for planned urban and industrial growth as things get back to normal so that human activity is more regulated, not an easy task in view of the way lives revolve around the river banks.

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